Friday, April 4, 2008

Afghanistan: I'll Gladly Pay You Tuesday

for a hamburger today, says Chimpy McStupidFuckwit to NATO regarding troop commitments in Afghanistan.

That is, the Guardian is reporting that the Idiot-in-Chief is promising to send additional troops to Afghanistan after he is out of office. Has anyone told him yet that he can only be deciderering if he's actually got the job title of deciderer?


George Bush today promised to send more troops to Afghanistan after his departure from the White House next year, whatever the status of troop withdrawals from Iraq.

The pledge, delivered at a Nato summit in Bucharest, would add a "significant" number of troops in Afghanistan in 2009, the Pentagon chief, Robert Gates, told reporters.
Now, Gates can be excused for saying what he's saying. After all, his job is to try and make his idiot boss look like a reasonable facsimile of a sentient creature. But Stupie von AWOL? Deities alone know what &mdash make that if &mdash he's thinking.

Doesn't he have handlers who tell him what to say and watch out that he doesn't fuck up too badly? This is pathetic, we're letting him run loose around the world embarrassing and humiliating the whole fucking nation, fer crisake.

Yes, yes, we realize that he has to perform some ungodly contortions in order to get NATO members to commit to additional troops for Afghanistan. But he wouldn't have to contort so mockably if he'd watched his fucking attitude eight years ago and behaved like a dignified and rational human being. Oh, right. He's not, actually.

In case you were wondering: Sarko has agreed to send between 800 and 1,000 French troops, apparently because Canada is otherwise threatening to pull out its troops. Australia, meanwhile, is planning to pull its troops out of Iraq this year.

Crossposted over at ThePoliticalCat

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

How Many Times

Does Nouri al-Maliki need his ass kicked really hard before he learns his lesson?

This is a question that will undoubtedly be resolved sometime before he either absconds with all the billions we've been pouring into Iraq (no doubt largely funnelled directly into his, and his cronies', unnumbered Swiss bank accounts) or meets a hideous end when he proves to be too much of a liability to either the Dawa Party (his party) or the fragile coalition of Dawa/SCIRI (or Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, ISCI, as it's calling itself these days) and whatever else is coalitioning with these thugs.

We didn't post about al-Maliki's recent primate-like posturing and associated blunders because it was all so deeply depressing and predictable. Why bother? It was obvious from the conflation of Cheney's "visit" to the ME and the revelation that he did not really discuss oil prices with the House of Saud followed by the chest-beating and rump displaying of teh Maliki that Sadr was going to have to kick his baboonlike ass but good just to keep the dumb motherfucker from overreaching.

To recap, a chronology of events:

  • March 17, three days before the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq: Cheney flies into Iraq unannounced, meets with al-Maliki

  • March 21, Cheney meets with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

  • March 22, Cheney announces through a myrmidon that the only relief in terms of oil prices will come from drilling in America's remaining pristine wildernesses, in other words, thanks America for funding my junket on which I took my wife and daughter and we went fishing in Oman on March 19th, and fuck you very much on oil prices.

  • March 26, Nouri al-Maliki issues his famous "ultimatum" to Iraqi "militias."

    Who are these Iraqi militias? Right now, Iraq is controlled by various hardline Islamic Shi'a factions, including al-Maliki's Dawa party, which has the Iraqi Army functioning as its own militia; SCIRI/Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) which has its own militia; and Hojatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr's Jaish al-Mahdi.

    For the benefit of the apparently senile or terminally stupid John McCain, elderly and doddering presidential candidate, we would like to point out here that al-Qaeda in Iraq (aQI) is a Sunni Muslim organization, with no friendly ties at all with the warring Shi'a militias. Also that al-Maliki's Dawa party is very friendly with the rulers of Iran - so friendly that they greeted that nation's president, Ahmedi Najad, with flowers and parades and marching bands when he recently visited &mdash unlike our leaders, who, despite paying nearly one trillion fucking dollars of our money for the privilege, must sneak into Iraq under cover of darkness and cannot even travel to the fucking market without fully armed squads of bodyguards, full body armour, and air cover.

    Nouri al-Maliki was apparently targeting al-Sadr's Jaish al-Mahdi with this crackdown. He called them "worse than al-Qaeda," the Sunni terrorist organization. Apparently, to al-Maliki, al-Sadr's challenge to his Prime Ministership is worse than the terrorist strikes around the world that have killed thousands of American, British, Spanish, Iraqi, Pakistani, and other peoples. Nice to know one's allies' priorities, Mr. Cheney. al-Maliki gave the JAM three days to lay down their arms and personally flew to Basra to supervise the extermination of JAM.

  • March 28, three days later, when it was pretty obvious that JAM was beating the living shit out of the Iraqi army, with Iraqi police turning over arms and equipment to JAM in Baghdad and Basra, al-Maliki "extended" the deadline to ten days.

    Despite all the guns and uniforms and training we have given the Iraqi Army, you can't buy loyalty and you can't buy a will to fight. JAM fights because they want control of Iraq and they believe they will be rewarded with political power or houris in paradise regardless of whether they live or die. The Iraqi Army fights because it's a job in a country with staggering unemployment rates and few other ways of making money, and at least they can feed their families. Whose motivation do you think is greater?

    Despite the full strength of the U.S. Army as backup & despite 160,000 or so American and British fighters with top-flight military equipment, including air strike capability, al-Maliki was forced to put lipstick on the pig of his claim that he would fight the Shi'a militias to the end. He had to beg for the help of his Iranian masters to end the conflict.

  • March 31, al-Sadr graciously extends the olive branch of peace &mdash along with a nine-point statement demanding the release of various of his supporters who have been arrested but not accused of any crime, and an end to attacks on his forces.

  • April 1, Nouri al-Maliki announces that the military operation in Basra has been a success. Obviously, he's smoking the same thing as Bush.

    Five hundred Iraqis were killed in the fighting. al-Maliki is asking al-Sadr to "please return" the 50 armored vehicles and government cars that JAM took. Two Americans were also killed, and rocket and mortar attacks carried out on the "fortresslike, secure" Green Zone, where the American Embassy is located.

  • April 03, we learn that Nouri al-Maliki is a masochist with a fetish for ass-kicking &mdash as long as he is the kickee. Nouri, my man, we had no idea you were such a BOTTOM!

    Even as Hojatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr is calling for nationwide protests to mark the anniversary of the U.S. toppling Saddam (April 9), al-Maliki is planning to enter Sadr City and other JAM strongholds. Is he trying to get the nascent Iraqi Army wiped out? Or is this an attempt to force continuing American and British involvement in the war?
Already the drawdown of "surge" troops has been halted and the British have announced that they will not pull out the 4,000 remaining troops in Basra. Not that the British troops are very effective, since they're all hiding out at the airport, and who can blame them. They must be tired of being used for target practice.

As for American troops &mdash people, if you have friends and relatives over there who were supposed to come back anytime soon, you can just kiss that goodbye. They may never come back at all, except in a body bag, if George keeps letting al-Maliki play soldiers using our forces. Is that what your friends and relatives signed up for? To be the pawns of an idiot who persists in playing with other people's lives and doesn't have the first clue about military strategy?

Meanwhile, you will no doubt be thrilled to your very toenails to hear that Chimpy McAWOL, who managed to weasel out of serving in any capacity except possibly National Buffoon, is paying no attention whatsoever to the restarting of the meatgrinder. Nope, he's busy trying to create a "legacy" or something, at the taxpayers' expense, somewhere in the former Soviet Union.

REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Clue: They're not laughing with you, George.

Crossposted over at ThePoliticalCat

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Beyond Despair--The Young People Are Our Hope

[Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain.]

[Not long after I saw my friend Jeri Reed, mother of an Iraq vet and a fighter to end this catastrophic war since before it began, at Winter Soldier, she sent me this passionate and hopeful piece. Anyone who wants to repost it has her permission.]

I stood out on the street Monday night with about fifteen others. Two members of the Oklahoma National Guard, one a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, both about to deploy to Iraq. Another mother whose two sons have been in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan, one son is in the Green Zone right now. Safer? She worries that he is in the middle of Baghdad, in the middle of Iraq, surrounded by millions of Iraqis who could one day get sick and tired of the American occupation once and for all.

A big supporter of IVAW who distributes their newsletter in his small Oklahoma town drove up from his farm to join us. His Marine son was killed in Iraq on September 6 last year, my birthday, he is my birthday soldier, which probably all of us have by now. We were supposed to be commemorating the death of the 4000th soldier in Iraq. But people weren't even honking any more like they used to. I'm sure a lot of people drove by thinking we were just foolish for even bothering. What's another dead soldier in a sea of so many? What's another dead Iraqi?

We keep standing out there even though it really does not do much to end the occupations. I wouldn't know what else to do. When my son rolled across the Iraq border five years ago on March 21, 2003, it became my eternal responsibility to do something, even if it seemed hopeless, which it does. But maybe that is what a lot of people think---why bother?

We are powerless to end this war, so why try? Better to just ignore it and keep our minds elsewhere. A lot of people have turned their attention to electoral politics, putting their faith into one of the dismal presidential candidates. At the same time, I have not talked to anyone who really believes that any of the candidates will actually end the war in Iraq, and of course, few people think to consider Afghanistan at all.

But some small events have given me hope, actions that have been criticized by others as rash and disruptive. Actions by young people guided by their passion and certainty that the occupation of Iraq is a crime against humanity that needs to stop immediately, by their youthful disbelief that such things could take place and no one would do anything to stop them. On Easter Sunday, six young people, members of a street theater group called Catholic Schoolgirls Against the War, entered the services at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago and staged a die-in, they spread fake blood around, right in the aisle in the middle of respectable parishioners there to quietly hear the mass, not be reminded of the atrocities happening thousands of miles away. They yelled out "Even the Pope calls for peace!" and lay down in the aisles as if dead. They vocally objected to the priest, Cardinal George, meeting with a known war criminal, George W. Bush.

They were arrested, and face felony charges for their actions, bail was set at $25,000 for five of them, $35,000 for Donte Smith allegedly due to a previous arrest at the School of the Americas, they are presently all free after putting up $16,000 of borrowed money. It made me so glad; it gave me so much hope. I was so proud of them.

Because if anyone thinks, after five years of this outrage, after one horrible year of my son invading another country and helping to wreak havoc and death and destruction, after a year of him being mortared almost daily, wading through depleted uranium which is like the ticking time bomb of our lives, after two years of trying to help him deal with the aftereffects to no avail, which of course we are supposed to keep to ourselves so as not to disturb others and simply smile and go about our normal lives which are not normal, after filing for bankruptcy the first year and continuing to sink money I don't have into fighting to end this war, we all do, those of us affected, our cards if we still have them are maxed out, we don't pay our bills. After sharing the pain of hundreds of other families and soldiers for five years, of all of those friends whose kids did not return from Iraq or Afghanistan, of all of those members of Iraq Veterans Against the War who despite the fact that they must deal with their own deep injuries physical and mental are courageously willing to put themselves on the line, even if they are active duty, even if they are in Iraq. Saying nothing of course about the tens of thousands of dead and wounded Iraqis and Afghanis or the lives they must lead in devastated nations, the fear that they live with daily, the sorrow and anguish they face daily. If anyone thinks that after all of this pain and death and disruption and destruction of our lives and the lives of all the people in Iraq and Afghanistan, I care if Easter Mass at Mayor Daley's church was disrupted by six young people with fake blood and cries for an end to this atrocity, they would be wrong. Good. I hope they do it some more. They are our hope.

I'm just saying that because I was looking for updates on the Holy Name 6, the name they have acquired, and ran across a message board, a generally anti-war message board made up of "progressive" Democrats, where opinion seems to be running against them, how dare they, on Easter Sunday yet, disrupt a church service. The innocent parishioners should have been allowed to enjoy their Easter in peace, to think of peace, perhaps to pray for it, then head to their homes for nice Easter dinners with their families. There were children present after all. They were scared.

There are children in Iraq. They are scared. They are wounded. They die. They have needed us to end this occupation for five years. They needed us to stop the invasion before it began. We failed. *None of us are innocent.* If our young people are willing to take risks to try to shock some compassion and concern into the American public who would rather look the other way and spend their time on football scores rather than thinking about the number of dead Americans and Iraqis and Afghanis, we need to support them. This is our hope--sedate crowds of marching old people have failed, devoted prayers of peace have failed, polite conversations with spineless and lying politicians have failed.

The action at Holy Name last Sunday is not the only sign of hope. Earlier this month at the University of Alabama, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War and Students for a Democratic Society were arrested for staging a mock incident between soldiers and Iraqis in one of the university's buildings. Recreating the day-to-day behavior of soldiers in Iraq towards Iraqi citizens was simply too alarming for those nearby, or in the words of the dean of students, it was disruptive and wrong because it was "mimicking a true emergency." This is a true emergency.

Students at the University of Iowa recently made war criminal Karl Rove very unwelcome after he was paid $40, 000 to speak there. Not only did a couple hundred students disrupt the speaking event, they surrounded the restaurant where Rove ate dinner later, calling for him to "come out with his hands up" over a bullhorn, attempting to make a citizens' arrest of this notorious war criminal, causing him to delay his exit for quite a while.

At a "teach in" near the University of North Texas a few weeks ago, I listened to students talk about ideas for actions, much of it taken from the pages of history. Members of a new SDS chapter like those springing up on campuses around the country were present. I found myself wanting to interrupt; some of the ideas sounded too much like the ideas of 20-year-old college students for me, because they were. I stopped myself from criticizing. It is all right for us to share wisdom. It is not all right to stifle our young people in this hopeless situation. We cannot tell them what to do. We have no grounds. We have failed.

Two weeks ago, Tina Richards spent the evening waiting at the juvenile facility in Washington DC for the release of her fourteen year old daughter who had been arrested blocking a street while chanting "Arrest Bush, not kids!" as part of the Stop-Loss Congress actions, along with many young people who descended on our nation's capitol for what they called Our Spring Break. This was Chrissy's second arrest. With two other young women, she was held for hours in a cell smeared with human feces and male bodily fluids, while the arresting officer kept trying to intimidate them, trying to scare them. They sang instead, they emerged with shining eyes and smiling faces, these three girls. They were proud of themselves and they should have been. And Chrissy was ready to do it again.

This is personal to Chrissy, along with her mother she has had to deal with the problems of her brother Cloy, a former Marine, now disabled with PTSD. She has had to stand by her mother as Cloy collapsed further and further after returning from Iraq, to the point where he called Tina and told her he was holding a gun to his mouth. Chrissy's life is permanently disrupted; I don't think she cares whether the rest of the country feels her pain.

I can remember how I felt when I was young, just realizing how the world really worked, I remember my shock and disbelief, my anger and my passion, and my belief that I could help change things. I think of things that I did that I would not do now, things that seem rash and dangerous. It is easy to look at the alleged excesses of the 60s and 70s with a critical eye, looking at the actions of so many young people then, the actions of ourselves. Some of them were misguided; some of them just did not work out the way they were planned. These were not things done by people who worried about their personal safety or the long-term repercussions of their actions. But then again, the Vietnam War ended and people of color in this country got more rights. None of this happened because people quietly prayed it away or went to the polls and elected the "right" people. Nothing has ever really changed in this country because people followed the rules and did the right thing and did not disturb others.

We live in the most powerful nation in the world with the biggest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, run by people who are murderers and torturers and thieves. Most of us acknowledge that we are ruled by murderers and torturers and thieves, mainly because they don't even bother to keep it from us. You could not bring enough buttons reading "Arrest Bush and Cheney" or the ever popular t-shirt "Arrest Cheney First" into the state of Oklahoma to satisfy demand. Yet no one seems willing to do anything about it. They don't want to disrupt their lives.

When the bombs started dropping on Baghdad on March 19, 2003, then my son drove into Iraq two days later, I knew we had failed. We had not been willing to disrupt our lives to stop this; I had not been willing to disrupt my own life enough even to prevent my own son from participating in these atrocities. I have always thought, what we should have done was shut down the whole country to stop it, no matter what.

None of the actions listed involved any kind of violence; they merely caused a lot of disruption and inconvenience for surrounding people, watch the video if you want to see what the Holy Name 6 actually did. None of these small incidents by themselves did much to end the war. But one can only hope that they are sparks. One can only hope. And if our young people decide that they simply do not want a future like this, that they do not want to give their silent assent to war crimes and war criminals, if they decide to disrupt the whole country to end this, to do what we have not been willing to do, we don't need to criticize them, we need to support them.

Or join them.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I'm still working on this, but I wanted to share what I've got so far...

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